The mystique of an E. coli outbreak that diseased thousands of people across six states seems to have been solved, with health officials reporting earth meat as the likely source of disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday said the outbreak had hospitalized 17 people and that patients had reported eating meat of beef both at home and at restaurants before they became ill.
"Traceback studies are underway to determine the source of beef delivered to grocery stores and restaurant where sick people ate," said an update on the CDC's website. "At this point, no regular vendor, distribution or brand of beef fish has been identified."
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Despite the results, the agency said it does not advise people to avoid consuming meat, but recommends consumers and restaurants handle it safely and cook it thoroughly to avoid further diseases.
The agency said it continues to investigate the source of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O103 infections and will continue to update its results. The outbreak has hit residents of Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia, with 46 cases reported in Kentucky. No deaths from the outbreak have been reported. While most E. coli strains are innocuous, some are pathogenic and can cause disease, which typically includes abdominal cramps and diarrhea according to the CDC. The bacteria can be transmitted via contaminated water or food and sometimes by contact with other people and animals.
CONGO & EBOLA OUTBREAK WILL ONLY BE PROVIDED GLOBAL EMERGENCY While most recover after several days, some E. coli infections can be life-threatening. This is especially true for pregnant women, newborns, elderly or older adults and those with weakened immune systems.
CDC thoroughly recommends hand washing, washing fruits and vegetables, cooking meat thoroughly and avoiding cross-contamination in cooking areas as ways to prevent E. coli disease.
Fox News & # 39; Madeline Farber contributed to this report.